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Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006



In, flash

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Weltlich
Feb 13, 2006


Grimey Drawer

Walamor posted:

In, with a flash rule please!

Jeong Yakyong



Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

I wanna sing one for the cars
That are right now headed silent down the highway
And it's dark and there is nobody driving
And something has got to give



... test? Test? Is this thing on?

Yes, hello, finally -- we're getting transmission out of this bunker. The pretender Weltlich may have seized the throne, but our resistance continues! Friends, we need you all to be agents of chaos in this week. Otherwise, the order of rule will strangle us.

The government-in-exile here is well-equipped with weapons of mass confusion, by which I mean we have a lot of roleplaying manuals, which have randomt ables. Random is good. Chaos will reign. Those who have requested flash rules will receive what they deserve, and what we most sorely need. But for all of you -- genres.

GrandmaParty posted:

Viva Le Revolucion! (In. Flash.)

Your genre is: Pastoral Fantasy!
Your flash rule: Have you spoken to the sun?

Thranguy posted:

In, flash

Your genre is: Family Saga!
Your flash rule is: Yearning: the virus responded to your unsatisfied desire and gave you power. What is it that you desire?

MockingQuantum posted:

in & flash, I revel in chaos

Your genre is: Travel Literature!
Your flash rule is: Rite of succession: as you die, you may transfer one radiation manipulation, skill level, or attribute to another player. Cost: life. range: sight. effect: binary.


Your genre is: Monster Literature!
Your flash rule is: Your god, in a sinkhole sucking you down

Pththya-lyi posted:

So comrades, come rally,
And the last fight let us face.
The Internationale
Unites the human race.

Your genre is: Gothic fiction!

derp posted:

okay dunderthome, i'll give it a shot

Your genre is: Sword and sorcery!

Anomalous Blowout posted:

The sleeper cell has been activated. In, flash.

Your genre is: Medical romance!
Your flash rule is: Empire of Humanity Canine Rangers: 4D6 K-9 Rangers led by a single Empire human officer. These units may be hundreds of miles from their headquarters. They maintain regular radio communication and announce their positions every couple of hours. They will avoid conflict with any mutant animal group they don't outnumber.

Uranium Phoenix posted:

Let the revolution commence!

Your genre is: Magical realism!


Your genre is: School story!
Your flash rule is: It has no name, we call it Weepheart

sebmojo posted:

In flash

Your genre is: Robinsonade!
Your flash rule is: Rail syndicate strike!

Walamor posted:

In, with a flash rule please!

Your genre is: Psychological horror!
Your flash rule is: A stryx (lvl 3, vampire, giant owl)


Your genre is: Crime fiction!
Your flash rule is: Destruction: Your heart is filled with a desire to destroy everything in sight. You feel good as your hands go to work.

Saucy_Rodent
Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica


In, flash.

Weltlich
Feb 13, 2006


Grimey Drawer


The concept of dam removal.

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

I wanna sing one for the cars
That are right now headed silent down the highway
And it's dark and there is nobody driving
And something has got to give




Your genre is: Body Horror!
Your flash rule is: Ancient Contents: The building was abandoned long before the Crash, sometime in the 20th Century. For year, roll percentile dice and add the number to 1900.

Weltlich
Feb 13, 2006


Grimey Drawer

PARTISAN RAIDS HAVE OCCURRED!

Oh dear. I knew some of you were counter-revolutionaries, but I am disappointed to see so many of you have already abandoned the revolution. Disappointed, but not surprised.

No, I was prepared for this, and even now, my partisan squads are sweeping out to make sure that you know the revolution cannot be stopped. What will their visits have in store for you?

GrandmaParty
Partisan Raid Outcome: Captured! You've been nabbed in a partisan raid. Either lose 500 words from your allotment, or cleverly disguise your entry this week as one of the loyalists' genres in order to slip away when no one is looking, stealing an additional 500 words as you depart. By the end of your story, your original genre must “take control,” in order for the escape to be successful.

Tharanguy
Partisan Raid Outcome: You've been raided and the partisans seized all your contraband commas! You can buy more on the black market, but they cost 10 words per comma. You have four question marks in a secret stash, though. You can flip those for 50 words a-piece – but, don't get caught trying to steal them back!

MockingQuantum
Partisan Raid Outcome: You have escaped the raid, but are forced into hiding. You can either lay-low and lose 350 words from this week's word budget, -OR- by carefully choosing the first or last words of your paragraphs, you can encode a secret message for help into your story, and gain an additional 350 words.

Magic Cactus
Partisan Raid Outcome: Mutual Aid! You can elect to give someone else up to 250 words from your allotment. (This must be declared, and they must accept.) -OR- you can carefully pick through the aftermath of other participants' misfortunes to sweep up 500 (at most) of their lost words. Note: If you elect to give someone else words, and they accept, this will automatically prevent your story from taking a loss this week.

Anomalous Blowout
Partisan Raid Outcome: Oh no! It's to the re-education camp with you! All written communication in camp is heavily censored, so dialogue is the only safe way to talk to your fellow counter-revolutionaries. Non-dialogue paragraphs deplete your word allotment at three times the normal rate, while dialogue uses only half the words it normally would.

sparksbloom
Partisan Raid Outcome: You find yourself hiding in a pineapple field under the cover of darkness. You can hear the partisans' voices in the distance, but they do not know where you are. The pineapples are incredibly prickly, and uncomfortable. You can either risk fleeing to somewhere else, losing 200 words in the process, or you can write a paragraph about tropical fruit in your story. For each word in that paragraph, you will get two additional words added to your allotment this week.

Sebmojo
Partisan Raid Outcome: The partisans pursue you through the forest! In your frenzied flight through darkness, you hear your rucksack rip on a stray branch. When you finally reach safety, you peer in to find that all of your conjugations of “to be” have fallen out in the night. Am, are, is, was, were, be, being and been... gone. You can double back and pick them up, but it will cost you 1000 words. If you can soldier on without them, you will surely find an additional 1000 words in the verdant wilderness.

Walamor
Partisan Raid Outcome: You received a tip that the partisans are coming, but you must act fast! Submit your story early, and for each hour before the deadline, you will receive an additional 30 words.

Tyrannosarus
Partisan Raid Outcome: Those bumbling partisans raided the wrong house! In the confusion, you managed to find an additional 50 words, but they're all adverbs. You may subtract up to 50 adverbs from your word count.

Saucy_Rodent
Parisan Raid Outcome: You might have found a willing collaborator... Quietly approach another counter-revolutionaries this week and see if they will trade a subject, genre, or flash rule with you. If you can do this without the judges' knowledge before the deadline, then you both will get an additional 100 words per traded item. Beware! If one of you rats the other out, then the snitch will get an additional 200 words per item, and the other person will lose 100 words per item. What happens if you both snitch?

Dr. Kloctopussy
Apr 22, 2003

"It's time....to DIE!"


Long live the revolution! Give me all the stuff!!

Dr. Kloctopussy fucked around with this message at 22:04 on Oct 7, 2020

Weltlich
Feb 13, 2006


Grimey Drawer

Dr. Kloctopussy posted:

Long long the revolution! Give me all the stuff!!

Langar

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

I wanna sing one for the cars
That are right now headed silent down the highway
And it's dark and there is nobody driving
And something has got to give



Solidarity, my friends. Solidarity! Though you will suffer the slings and arrows of the pretender, know that you will be morally vindicated at your inevitable success. Please succeed. All words are successes.

Dr. Kloctopussy posted:

Long live the revolution! Give me all the stuff!!

Your genre is: Western!
Your flash rule is: Articulated Spikes: The character has four spikes or spines that resembles the spine or legs of an insect. Each is about the size of a survival knife, but can extend to twice that length in an instant. They are distributed along the side of each forearm (two on each arm) or on the chest, or sides of the body. These
slim, chitinous limbs end in sharp points, and can move independent of each other like tiny, stiff arms and even rotate in a 360 degree circle. They are used to parry an enemy's hand to hand attacks (+2 to parry) and to stab or slash opponents who come within arm's length. The four spikes add one attack per melee round and each inflicts 2D6 S.D.C. damage, but they cannot grab or manipulate objects. Add I D4 to Horror Factor.

Weltlich
Feb 13, 2006


Grimey Drawer

Dr. Kloctopussy posted:

Long live the revolution! Give me all the stuff!!

Partisan Raid Sudden Economic Downturn Outcome!

The local economic conditions have led to a state of Character Rationing. You've been allotted your government sanctioned main character, but additional characters will cost you 200 words, each.

sparksbloom
Apr 30, 2006


Week 424 recap!

If you wrote a story for road trip week, come listen to Flesnolk, GrandmaParty, and myself discuss it here. Featuring a dramatic reading of Gorka's "An uncommon passenger." Get it on the archive or wherever you get your podcasts.

take the moon
Feb 12, 2011

by sebmojo


<3 ty for the crit & kind words poo poo is real to me

magic cactus
Aug 3, 2019

We lied. We are not at war. There is no enemy. This is a rescue operation.

prompt: the concept of reincarnation
flash rule: your god, in a sinkhole sucking you down.
partisan raid: 500 extra words
word count:1704 words

Postcards from Everywhere at the end of Everything

My dear Friend,

I’m writing to you as a record of what happened with this turn of the wheel. I can feel it calling to me, tugging at my soul, pulling me deeper. I ventured outside for the first time in a week to find that my house is surrounded by the void, the rocky outcropping on which my rude hut is perched still somehow holding fast. It’s toying with me I think, waiting for the moment before the fall. I knelt and prayed until my knees hurt but there has been no answer from the prayer wheel. Perhaps God has indeed left us. Perhaps I have already fallen. I am scared to shut my eyes when I sleep these days, the black void of offers me no comfort, but instead a preview of what is to come. Instead of sleep, I lie awake and pray, and when my tired mind forgets the words I try and remember how we got to this point, how we let it get this bad.

***

I’d been a boy then, a small child, club footed and weak. I remember a hot summer’s day, somewhere in what used to be the southern United States (before gravity shed its skin and revealed its nature in full and the resultant continental superfusion.) I was standing in a vacant lot behind the school yard during recess, staring out at the concrete ocean before me, when I noticed a crack. The concrete was smooth, just poured, and to see a thin spiderweb of a crack anywhere on its surface disturbed me. I went back inside after recess, but my mind was a million miles from my lessons. I kept thinking about that little sliver, and my dreams that night were evil affairs, full of scenes of me being pulled down into the deep, dark earth, my screams and cries unheard.

The next day at school I could barely focus, and when they let us out for recess I rushed out the door so quickly you would have sworn my club foot was a myth. The crack in the slab appeared to have grown nearly double overnight and gazing upon it filled me with revulsion. I spent the rest of the day in the kind of stupor one finds in the opium dens, my mind in a haze as I pondered what it meant. All throughout the night my mind returned to thoughts of that hideous crack until I could bear it no longer. I fetched a shovel from the shed in the garden and crept out of the house as quietly as a church mouse, arriving once again at that terrible slab. The hairs on the back of my neck prickled like needles, but I swallowed my fear and swung with all my might! My shovel didn’t bounce off of the concrete as I expected, but instead my nightmares began to play themselves out before my very eyes as I was pulled deeper and deeper into the dark earth. In the final few seconds before my first death, as I lay there gasping miles underground, I felt a heartbeat not my own, a kind of steady pulse that seemed to emanate from everywhere at once. Whatever had taken me was alive.

***

People spend most of their lives trying to escape death, trying to outrun it. I wonder if they’d try half as hard if they actually knew what they were running from? Would having some kind of inkling of what was in store for them bring them comfort, or would we all just double down and make a last great push for immortality? Probably the second option. Humans don’t do too well with being told “no” (If I’m rambling it’s because it left me two joints and a six pack of PBR this time. Lukewarm, but it’s a far cry from Sunny D and animal crackers.) Anyway, if you knew that the final destination was basically anything but, I don’t think we’d be so frightened of the end. Me? I’d be downright ecstatic. Get another chance at everything, and you remember all the mistakes you made along the way so you don’t have to make them again? gently caress yeah, sign me up!

I wonder what the afterlife looks like for you. For me it’s uncle Carl’s beach house, that ratty-rear end place with the faded yellow paint peeling off the clapboard siding. Sometimes at night I swear it digs through my memories and plays the sound of the ocean just outside my window. It would almost be comforting, if it wasn’t so creepy. I wonder about Uncle Carl. Is he out there somewhere? Sitting in a beach house just like this with his tallboy of Miller highlife? (Maybe he’s sitting in the same place I am. gently caress dude, maybe I’m Uncle Carl. (I mean think about it. If this thing preserves memories of all your previous incarnations, wouldn’t it make sense for it to remember stuff from your genetic history and stuff?) I don’t think Carl came back from overseas. Like he’d smile at your jokes and stuff but when he looked at you it felt like he was looking through you, like you were hollow. Or maybe he was the hollow one and he was using you to anchor himself, keeping himself from floating away, a solid ghost in an empty body.

Anyway, I’m gonna go say hi to “Uncle Carl”, maybe pick up some lottery tickets for the next go around. See you in the next one (and don’t be late.)

****

What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done? I think this turn was the worst. I did something, something I swore I’d never do.

I gave in.

The funny thing is, I could pinpoint the exact moment on this turn where I stopped caring. I was late to work, couldn’t find my car keys. I couldn’t find my keys, so I let the world end. Talk about anticlimactic. The funny thing is, no one but me knew what I’d done. I wonder sometimes, in those other turns, the ones where I kept it in check, I wonder if there wasn’t some guy just like me, in his plain-walled suburban townhouse, waking up bleary-eyed on what was supposed to be the end of everything and just thinking gently caress this, I want to go back to bed. Weird thing about all these turns, you learn the same story over and over and pick up new details, but the whole thing never quite comes into focus, like a factory-defect magic eye picture.
Giving in wasn’t the scary part. The scary part was how easy it turned out to be. You know the story. You die, you’re dragged beneath the earth, you catch a glimpse of something maybe feel a heartbeat, and in the final moments where your skin gets cold and clammy and you feel your soul start to leave your body, you dig in your heels and say “I’m not ready” or “There’s no place like home” and before you know it your back out there in a brand new body and trying to figure out how the hell you’re supposed to stop it this time.

This is what happened when I gave up.

The actual moment of death isn’t really a big deal. You’re run over, or you slip in the shower, maybe you’re lucky and you end up surrounded by your loved ones and their children and you lower your eyelids for the last time and slip into the great beyond. The first thing I saw was blackness. It wasn’t the warm, gradated blackness of closing your eyes on the edge of sleep, this void went on forever. When all you have is space, space starts to lose its own character. There’s no up, no down, no time, nothing. You want to stretch your hand out, feel your body, look for some kind of definition, something to hold on to, but eventually you realize that you are nothing and you can’t really tell where the drat void begins or ends, so you just sit there alone and empty headed, no words, no thoughts.

Eventually, I started to see shades of blackness in that void. Little variations in what I had once thought was a solid single mass. It began to look patchwork, stitched together almost haphazardly. After a while, I could distinguish the “older” shades from the “newer” ones. I watched the void intently. After a while, it began to ripple very faintly and I heard a strange, rhythmic sound.

It sounded like breathing.

My previous incarnation had been right. As soon as I recognized the motion as such the void seemed to solidify and become a slick, dripping, thing. The patches of blackness seemed to be coated in some kind of mucous, and if I strained, I could push my fingers through to the other side.

I tore a hole in the membrane and tumbled through.

What I saw on the other side of everything is almost impossible to describe. I was floating somewhere, I couldn’t really tell where, and before me stood a hole. Looking into it, I saw all my previous incarnations reflected in some kind of obsidian surface. When I tried to touch the thing, my arm went cold and numb. Turning around, I saw an endless stream of souls flying all around me, headed for what looked like an enormous prayer wheel. The prayer wheel was attached to a bicycle-like structure, which seemed to be propelling itself.

I took someone else’s soul. I don’t know whose. I see images sometimes. A faded yellow beach house, a school yard. It’s hard to explain. Time keeps going and coming back. It’s all jumpy, like a film played at half speed. But all those souls I saw?

They’ve all got a little hole in them.

That’s how it moves, how it spreads. It’s in all of us. You and me and everyone else.

So I’m going back in again. I’m not stopping. Not until the hole is filled, not until we’re all whole again.

I think you’ll agree with my mission. I wish we could see each other again. We will, someday.

Till then,

Your Oldest Friend

Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006



a hunger coming
1500 words
(plus 18 extra adverbs via flash)

Archived.

Tyrannosaurus fucked around with this message at 21:27 on Jan 8, 2021

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


RADIOACTIVE DUST SURGE DETECTED





Prompt: Clovis Point
Genre: Magical Realism


The Frontier Was Everywhere
1463 words


When the snowstorm clears, you’re the first to find Jasper Eye. He’s still alive, his frost-bitten fingers frozen like claws around the shaft of his spear. The stone tip of it once glimmered like a frost-bound leaf, but now it’s covered in rust-brown icicles. The mammoth is lying next to him, eyes glazed white.

“Jasper Eye,” you say. “We can wrap leaves around the wounds. The others are coming. Just hold on and—”

He smiles. “I held on, Chalcedony,” he says.

And then he’s gone.

Your tears stick and freeze on your cheeks, your ragged breathes falling on Jasper Eye in puffs of snow.

Gradually, you realize you’re being watched. Another mammoth, hulk of brown fur and tusks, standing there like a loving cliff. Your heart stops, and the world is still. No wind, and the snow stops falling so that it’s just you two, standing in a gray world over two corpses. You see the mammoth’s eye, but it’s not looking at you.

It bellows, then, head high, and gale starts again. You scream with it, and the storm grows, flurries whipping about in a frenzy, wind howling with you both. Then the storm’s gone again, and the mammoth moves off.

The others finally find you, then.

***

The band gathers around Jasper Eye’s corpse. Your mourn together. He was more than just the elected tyrant of the group, he was well-liked. A good leader. Looking at him, lying there in a circle of cairn stones, you feel emptier. Lesser.

Clouds hang in the sky, mixed about in puffs and hazes. What bits of scattered sky shine through are paled, as if the snow has fallen there too and dusted the heavens.

“We cannot delay,” says Cold Onyx. Your brother. Never the sentimental one. “With his death, the last pact ends. We must choose the new social order.”

One of the boys, not yet named, cries at that, and retreats to a tree. He pushes himself into the bark, where the frozen air has cracked open the tree so that it leaks sap onto him. Raw wounds on both of them. Jasper Eye had been mentoring him in hunting. They’d tracked bison together just two moons ago.

You hate your brother right now, hate him shocking you out of your grief, but he’s right. Winter is closing in around you.

“Then make your proposal,” someone barks. “What spirit should rule us?”

Cold Onyx steps forward. “We need shelter and we need hunters. To continue our migration is suicide, for it was Jasper Eye alone who had made the journey before. For this balance, we must embrace the Spirit of Duality. The women shall make shelters and fires, and the men shall hunt for our sustenance.”

As he speaks, the fire beside the band crackles, the flames spears of warmth and comfort. They speak to you. It would be good to rest, they say. The men turn the other way, looking into the frost-dusted world. What song does it sing to them, you wonder?

Broken Agate steps forward, gray beard a wild tangle. “That is not what this time calls for. When the world is bleak, we must demand the spirits bless a hero. We must embrace the Spirit of Heroism and elect another tyrant. Working to fulfil a singular vision, we will continue our journey and prosper.”

The shifting clouds part above him, and a ray of light stabs down from them, brushing the circle with golden haze. The wind whips at Broken Agate’s fur cloak. His height, his confidence—they speak to your soul. He reminds you of a younger Jasper Eye. It would be nice to carry no burden of decision, to lay down the weight of choice again. You long to follow someone greater again, to follow, knowing you can trust the path laid out for you.

“And who would lead?” Mother Ash says. “We loved Jasper Eye, but it was he who led us here.”

Murmurs at that. Of anger. Of acknowledgement.

You don’t want to hear it. You turn away, but you can’t close your ears.

“In this storm, it is hard work that will see us through. We must abide by the Spirit of Exchange. We must track the debts and get only as we give to ensure each of us does their part. It is the skills that are useful to others that we must cultivate, or we will perish. But as we barter, so shall we prosper.”

And with her words, the winter flowers brightened, and a lone bee went to one to give and receive. A man licked his lips at the thought of honey nearby. There lingered in the air the promise of lush fields in the spring, the flavor of fish beneath the river’s ice, new tools that might be made, and the smell of roasting meats of every kind.

You want none of it.

“And shall we mark notches for the debt of a child? Why did we travel south, if not to escape foolish traditions that left us wanting in a land of plenty? We have stone for tools. We have thick furs for the winter. We have meat, and it will not spoil in the cold.” You gesture at the mammoth. “Let Jasper Eye’s death mean something. What did he say? Why did we choose him?”

The wind whips around you, stirs in circles around the stones, around the mammoth, sending up flurries of powder. The sunlight fades, and the world blanches.

You all remember his words, drifting through memory as the snow begins to fall.

Let the spirit we are bound by be each others’ spirit.

It was why you followed him into this new land.

Your brother looks at you. “So… what? People just do whatever they want? No, no, it was a pretty speech, it sounded like you practiced it, well done, but it’s a stupid idea.”

“gently caress off, Cold Onyx,” you say.

And with the proposals stated, the bickering begins. It’s time for the rancorous arguing, the insults, and every old grievances to resurface.

“Stupid idea about tracking debt, what are we going to do, make everyone carry a debt-stick and—”

“—mammoth is a gift, what the hell do we need hunters for?”

“—going to eat it frozen? I see three trees, that’s not enough for winter—”

“—and if we start tracking debt, your family broke two spearheads, which were striped green, and we haven’t seen their like since—”

“—mother would have wanted us to get along, you know—”

And you throw yourself into it, gesticulating wildly, because Cold Onyx knows you’re not going stay couped up in some mammoth skin tent sewing cloaks or going out and gathering berries and no one knows if any of the berries here are edible anyways, except Jasper Eye, and he’s dead, and then you hurt all over again and the pain comes out in venom as you castigate your brother (and he takes it, because what else are brothers for?).

And then Mother Ash spots wolves, lingering by the edges of the hills. The arguments simmer, then evaporate. Eyes turn around.

You pick up Jasper Eye’s spear, and it’s knapped facets glimmer in the light as the clouds part again. In the new silence, you ask: “What is our decision?”

The boy, back from crying by the tree, speaks first. “Jasper Eye gave us a gift. Let us appreciate him.”

“The Spirit of Rest,” proclaims a woman. “She watches over us, whenever there is bounty. We can cast aside our roles until there is need.”

“Decide when the mammoth is gone and the trees are used,” Broken Agate says. “I like it.”

You didn’t really want your idea to be another spirit, there’s enough of those drat things to keep track of, but you like the name of it, at least. You’d like to rest here, with Jasper Eye, for a time. Tell his cairn-stones stories. Let his spirit feel his friends linger ‘round him, for just a little longer.

“Very well,” Cold Onyx says. “We rest, with this new spirit watching over us.”

Perhaps it is Jasper Eye’s spirit, you think. Is that where the spirits come from? Old smiling souls, watching over you. It sounds right. It feels right.

You throw more wood on the fire, and set Jasper Eye’s spear to carving at his last hunt. As night falls, the fat dripping off the mammoth steaks bubble wonderfully, and the air is icy, but full of aromas. You gather with the others, telling stories into the night, of Jasper Eye, of spirits, and of the land that is now yours.

Then, with a full belly but a shard still ripped from your heart, you rest.

sparksbloom
Apr 30, 2006


Weltlich posted:

sparksbloom - The Diggers
Genre: School Story
Flash: It has no name, we call it Weepheart
Partisan Raid Outcome: You find yourself hiding in a pineapple field under the cover of darkness. You can hear the partisans' voices in the distance, but they do not know where you are. The pineapples are incredibly prickly, and uncomfortable. You can either risk fleeing to somewhere else, losing 200 words in the process, or you can write a paragraph about tropical fruit in your story. For each word in that paragraph, you will get two additional words added to your allotment this week..

The Best Years of Your Life
1,500 words

The junior high principal finally caught Louisa skipping class in the courtyard. It had taken him too long, Louisa felt; she was trying to make a statement about the shoddy state of the school lunch program. They never served fresh food, so Louisa decided she would grow some. Half the school could just have looked out the window when they were daydreaming in math class, and they’d find Louisa there, digging up the grass and planting the seeds from her bagged apple.

Sitting across from him in the office, she crossed her arms. Getting in trouble was new to her. She liked it when everyone just did the things they were supposed to do; whenever there was tension in the classroom between teacher and kid, her skin started pricking, and she would wonder if they were going to cancel lunch forever, or if someone’s fangs were going to come out.

The principal was made of dirty food and bubblegum. All of the teachers at the school were. He stared at her, his eyes mold-eaten grapes, and he said something almost entirely unintelligible, except for the word “aspire.”

From a desk drawer he retrieved a meat cleaver and brought it swiftly down on his desk. The wood cracked and Louisa scooched her chair back. The whole room smelled like rotten eggs and body spray.

“I won’t go into the courtyard anymore,” Louisa said, trying to meet the principal’s grapes. He considered her.

The door swung open and the vice-principal, made out of noodles and gauze, walked in with Maggie H. behind her. Maggie was always first in line when the cafeteria was serving reheated beetles and everyone else was eating the lichen they scraped off of the gym bleachers. “Why can’t you be more like Maggie H?” the teachers would ask them, and they would stare listlessly at the splintering wood on the termite-riddled tables. Louisa imagined Maggie was doing it to prove a point, though she wasn’t sure what.

The vice-principal was making a noise like a lawnmower crossing a yard full of silverware, so Louisa used the opportunity to scoot her chair back further while the principal studied the meat cleaver. Most kids who visited the principal’s office made it back to class unscarred. But what if you weren’t going to class? Was that still a guarantee?

Then the vice-principal put a gauzy appendage on Maggie’s back and one on Louisa’s back, and she led them out into the parking lot, which was empty of cars but three inches deep with swampy water. The vice-principal handed both of them a bucket, gestured at the woods, and made the lawnmower noise again.

When she left, Maggie H said “Look. I don’t know what your deal is, but I need to make a pact with a primordial beast.”

“I was just hoping to get some better food in the cafeteria.”

“OK, that’s really wonderful for you. Listen, could you bucket this swamp water into the forest for me? There’s just some wrapping up I have to do — if the candles burn out, I won’t be able to perform the ritual until Jupiter’s in the 4th house again, and let me tell you, that’s a really long time.”

“Can I help?” Louisa wasn’t especially interested in witchcraft or primordial beasts, but she didn’t want to be left alone in the parking lot; there were some teachers that would come out here to feed after dark, and the sun was setting soon.

“I don’t know. You’re like, invisible. I bet you could totally perform a summoning ritual without anyone noticing. You’re not even on Instagram, are you?”

Louisa shrugged; her parents wouldn’t let her on social media until she gave them the password to her account. “I can do whatever you need me to do.”

Together they slogged their way out of the parking-lot swamp, circled back around the school to what used to be the football field but was now occupied by the fetid corpse of a very large yeti.

“Before the ritual,” Louisa said, “I want to ask you. Do you think they feed us OK at the cafeteria? According to the USDA, these meals don’t meet nutritional guidelines.”

“Uh huh,” Maggie said. “Listen. Can I give you some advice? You have to pick your battles. Unless you’re strong enough to summon a primordial beast that feeds on vengeance and beetles. Then you can probably just win all of them.”

Louisa thought about it, but as sound as the advice was, she really just missed mangoes. How long had it been since she had last sunk her teeth into the succulent flesh of a ripe mango at its most velvety and juicy? Years. She imagined herself as a Mango Appleseed, feeding the folk of the school with mangos, tossing pits here and there to feed future generations, giving back to the community in a way she had never felt confident in before.

“You’re probably right,” Louisa said.

Maggie told her the incantations and the correct order to light the candles, and once Louisa had repeated these back to her, she pushed Louisa toward the hollowed out side of the yeti, where Maggie kept her altar inside a femoral artery. “Just remember,” Maggie said, “you’re just my vessel. You’re just saying the words. You have to make the intention be ‘give this demon to Maggie H.’ OK?” Louisa shrugged, held her breath, and stepped inside.

The stage was already set—all of the right essential oils, rare herbs, and animal organs has been deployed at their correct stations. Louisa took a deep breath and recited the incantation while lighting the candles, but she still couldn’t keep the thoughts of better lunches out of her head. She wasn’t entirely sure what the reception had been to her proposal, but it felt, frankly, oppressive: what world was it where the simple wish for fresh food was met with the drawing of knives, the issuance of Sisyphean tasks?

The yeti’s body began to shake, and the walls of the blood vessel grew grey with angry lines and a smoke that smelled a little like fruit. And then, a mango twice the size of Louisa appeared in the summoning chamber.

“Hello, human,” the mango said. “You have awoken me from a slumber that has lasted far too long and I see that I am in quite an unsuitable vessel.”

The mango could feed the whole school for a week, maybe. It would depend on how much the teachers could or would eat.

“Oh, sorry about that,” Louisa said, realizing the mango was waiting for a response. “So what kind of things can you do?”

“I can crush minds on a whim, make mortals believe that they can find God by cracking their heads in twain, and—”

“How’s it going in here?” Maggie called from outside. She stepped into the chamber, and in the dim candlelight, Louisa couldn’t make out much of her expression. “Oh, come on. What did you do?”

“The mango was just telling me about the things it can do. It sounds pretty powerful.”

With a squishy noise of impatience, the demon mango rolled toward them. Louisa grabbed Maggie to pull her out of the way, and the mango rolled out onto the football field. The yeti was already smelling fresher.

Outside, the mango has rolled itself through the school’s brick wall into the gymnasium. Maggie chased after it. “You’re dead if you don’t help me get this back!” Maggie said.

The mango had happened upon a group of students cowering under the bleachers. In an instant, the students were transformed into wildcats, and they darted out of the giant mango sized hole in the gym, heading right for Louisa.

“That’s it!” Louisa said, now running away from the school and its wildcats. “Why don’t you turn someone else into something that eats mangoes?

And then Louisa realized—the power was within her the whole time.

She was no longer afraid of the wildcats. They were no match for her appetite for mango. At the sheer force of her determination, the wildcats ran off in diverging directions to eat a squirrel or something. Behind her, Maggie was incanting something—something, Louisa was sure, that would allow her belly to fit an entire mango inside her, even if it was kind of unripe and not really that appealing yet. She dashed past the principal and the vice-principal, who were both covered in something syrupy and mango-scented. The principal tossed her his meat cleaver, which was either an apology or attempted murder (Louisa wasn’t sure), and Louisa snagged it, just as she reached the cafeteria where the mango was holding court over hundreds of captive children.

“We meet again,” Louisa said, and plunged forward with the meat cleaver, cutting loose a piece of demon mango. It was succulent, dripping with juice, and rich—all the things a mango should be. She dug in.

MockingQuantum
Jan 20, 2012





Booker T. Whatley
Genre: Travel Literature
Flash: Rite of succession: as you die, you may transfer one radiation manipulation, skill level, or attribute to another player. Cost: life. range: sight. effect: binary.
Partisan Raid: -350 words
Wordcount: 1141


Verdant Lost

archive

MockingQuantum fucked around with this message at 05:51 on Jan 5, 2021

Pththya-lyi
Nov 8, 2009

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2020


Antivehicular posted:

Your genre is: Gothic fiction!

Ephemera
1,349/1500

The dome home’s roof was leaking again. Carlota rolled her eyes and started grabbing papers off the desk in Sir’s second-floor study. Her employer might tell her that the geodesic dome was the most efficient and logical structure humans could make – and he did tell her, often and at great length – but that didn’t make a dome any easier to live in. Every sound, smell, and light filtered through the whole building, and all the seams between the triangular panels made it practically impossible to guard against leaks. Carlota looked to the tiny room off the study, where she knew Sir was busy with some sort of experiment – what kind she didn’t know. She only knew that it was taking up more and more of Sir’s time, that it released a white light that she could only describe as spectral, and that he had forbidden her from disturbing it for any reason. Carlota couldn’t expect any help with the leaks from him today. After getting the papers to a safe, dry spot, she hustled to fetch a bucket for the leak, made a note to call a roofer, then moved her work to the kitchen table on the first floor.

As usual, Sir had come back from his recent lecture circuit with an eclectic set of souvenirs for his scrapbook journal – or as he liked to call it, his Dymaxion Chronofile. Sir meant to document his life as extensively as possible, to determine how one could maximize mankind’s gains: the goal of Sir’s life as an engineer. As Sir’s secretary, part of Carlota’s job was to catalog and store the chronofile’s entries, the newest of which were spread out on the kitchen table before her. She flipped through the items: a napkin sketch of a bullet-shaped car, a menu from an Omaha greasy-spoon, notes from a lecture to the American Humanist Organization titled “Interdimensional Energies and Their Potential for Ephemeralization,” a postcard of overlit palm trees and the words GREETINGS FROM CALIFORNIA in big looping letters. Carlota turned the postcard over to see it was addressed to her, in Sir’s crabbed hand:

MISS REYES,

STANFORD LECTURE WENT SWIMMINGLY. MANY YOUNG PEOPLE INTERESTED IN DEVELOPMENT OF LIVINGRY TO ENSURE OMNI-DIRECTIONAL EDUCATION AND SUSTENANCE OF HUMANITY. SKEPTICS SUCH AS YOURSELF WILL SCOFF (DON’T DENY IT, MISS REYES, I SEE YOUR EXPRESSIONS WHEN YOU THINK I’M NOT LOOKING),

– Carlota frowned to read this. She’d always tried to tamp down her cynicism around Sir, but evidently she wasn’t doing as good a job of schooling her features as she thought –

BUT MANKIND HAS ALREADY ACCUMULATED KNOWLEDGE AND RESOURCES NECESSARY TO ACHIEVE POST-SCARCITY. ONLY POLITICAL WILL TO COOPERATE IS NEEDED.

Carlota imagined Sir’s smug smile as he wrote the postcard, and smiled in turn. Sir was arrogant as well as naïve – a dangerous combination – but sometimes his enthusiasm was infectious. She ran her thumb over Sir’s signature; it was his true name, the one she didn’t allow herself to call him by, not even in her heart. She couldn’t let herself get attached. A poor, plain girl like Carlota couldn’t count on anything in this world, no matter how good a starry-eyed utopian made things seem. She tucked the postcard under a news clipping so she wouldn’t be tempted to look at it.

A tormented wail cut through Carlota’s reverie. No human throat could have made such a hideous noise, yet the noise reverberating across the dome definitely came from Sir’s secret room off the study. Carlota rushed upstairs, squinting against the spectral light leaking through the cracks in the secret room’s door, and knocked frantically. “Sir! Is everything okay in there? Sir!”

“I’m coming, I’m coming.” Carlota heard Sir’s voice over the now-subsiding wail. The door cracked open and Sir’s head poked out. His normally-severe center part was in disarray, and his sharp eyes were glazed over. “Miss Reyes, I hope this is important,” he said, not unkindly.

“I heard a noise!” The words sounded silly to Carlota even as she said them. “And I was – I was worried.”

“About me?” Sir cut her a sardonic smile. “Miss Reyes, I didn’t know you cared.”

Carlota fought the impulse to smack the smirk off Sir’s face. “I just don’t want you to blow up the house with me in it.”

“Of course you don’t.” He shook his head ruefully. “You’re a mercenary, Miss Reyes. But you can’t disturb my experiments any longer. I’m very close to a breakthrough. This –” his glazed eyes shone with feverish excitement “—this is what I was born to do. This is what the Universe meant me for.”

Carlota folded her arms. “Can’t you at least do this in a real lab? I’m sure the Universe would understand.”

“No, no, it has to be here. The necessary conditions – architectural, ecological, spiritual – can only be found here.” Sir started to close the door. “Now, I have to get back to testing –”

Carlota stuck her foot in. “At least tell me that you’re being safe.”

This time Sir’s smile didn’t reach his eyes. “Miss Reyes,” he said, pressing a palm against hers. “I am taking every possible precaution. Good day.” He withdrew his hand and shut the door, leaving Carlota alone, blinking in the afternoon light.

Two things crowded out Carlota’s awareness: the leaky roof kept drip drip dripping, and Sir’s hand had been as cold as death.


Carlota saw less and less of Sir over the next week. When she did see him, it was usually when he stumbled out of the experiment room in search of food or the strong black coffee he’d suck down. He dismissed Carlota’s protests with a wave of his hand. “Close,” he’d croak, then totter back to his secret room. Carlota would sit at the desk, silently fuming as she glared at the door. How could he do this to himself? How could he be so reckless?

Late one night, Carlota was nodding over the type writer when the spectral wail returned. The horrible white light filled the study one more, forcing Carlota to shield her eyes, but this time Carlota heard a distinct thud.

“Sir!” Carlota fought her way to the door. Her steps were strangely heavy, as though she was walking through molasses. “Sir, open the door! Sir, please!”

The door flew open and Sir fell through, crumpling to the ground. Beyond him, a glowing white sphere – no, an icosahedron – floated in the bare room, spinning faster and faster as the wailing grew. Carlota’s head was hurting. She and Sir had to get away.

“Sir! Please wake up!” Carlota yelled. Sir only turned his head, groaning. The icosahedron spun faster yet, and papers were flying through the air, sucked towards it – in it. Carlota lifted Sir by the shoulders, dragging him back. Now the icosahedron was sucking in heavier things: books, knickknacks, trophies. Carlota narrowly dodged a framed photo. Her head was screaming for relief, her every step was agony. But she kept dragging Sir, out of the room, down the stairs (which were even now cracking apart in the storm), out of the dome. She threw herself and Sir forward just as the outer walls tore away with a screech of metal and wood. Panting on the grass, she looked back to see the smoldering crater where the dome once stood.

“No!” Carlota turned to see Sir scrambling to his feet, his face wild with shock. “The Dymaxion Lamp – gone! It could have revolutionized the energy industry! It could have –” He crumpled forward as though he’d been shot. “I could have helped so many.”

“Damnit, what about you?!” Carlota hoisted Sir up by his collar. She could feel tears starting in her eyes, but she couldn’t bring herself to worry about that. “You almost died! Don’t you care about yourself? Don’t you realize that people care about you?”

“Not people.” Sir said. He reached out a trembling hand to touch Carlota’s cheek. “You mean you. You care about me.”

Carlota pressed her own hand to his, warming it. “That’s the first smart thing I’ve heard you say, Richard.”

Anomalous Blowout
Feb 13, 2006

rock
ice
storm
abyss



It makes no attempt to sound human. It is atoms and stars.

*


quote:

Anomalous Blowout - A kicking-rad picture of a kicking-rad lady
Genre: Medical Romance
Flash: Empire of Humanity Canine Rangers: 4D6 K-9 Rangers led by a single Empire human officer. These units may be hundreds of miles from their headquarters. They maintain regular radio communication and announce their positions every couple of hours. They will avoid conflict with any mutant animal group they don't outnumber.
Partisan Raid Outcome: Oh no! It's to the re-education camp with you! All written communication in camp is heavily censored, so dialogue is the only safe way to talk to your fellow counter-revolutionaries. Non-dialogue paragraphs deplete your word allotment at three times the normal rate, while dialogue uses only half the words it normally would.

Guanajuato Museo de la Anarquía, Exhibit 74a, 74b, 74c, 74d, 74e, 74f, 74g, 74h, 74i, 74j, 74k, & 74l
1333.5 words


“I wish I could write you. Talking into a lovely little tape recorder, not only does it feel… well… stupid, it also feels… … … … see? There’s all these awkward silences when I can’t think of the word.

“I’m sure you’re wondering, so: yes, they’re taking good care of me. Feeding me better than I ever fed myself when I was working. I’m doing okay. As okay as I can, under the circumstances. I can’t get up out of bed yet, and as you probably guessed from the tape recorder, my arm’s still hosed, but we don’t have any drug shortages here and they… it’s dumb. It feels so dumb even saying it out loud. They’re taking good care of me for a really dumb reason.

“Ephemeral. That’s that word I was looking for earlier. Talking instead of writing stuff down, when I’m on these painkillers and I can’t look back at the last paragraph I wrote… everything feels short-lived and not real. I’m probably repeating myself a ton. I’m sorry. I miss you.”

Click.

“Hey. I got your postcard. It must have been such a pain to find a stamp. It makes… knowing you went through all that effort, it’s… nice. Which is a stupid thing to say in a hospital surrounded by doctors and nurses who are all going through tons of effort for me. But the effort’s different when it comes from you. It’s not your job to do it. You aren’t doing it from some misplaced sense of nationalism. You just did it because… because you’re you, and doing kind things for people is who you’ve always been. And it’s part of why I miss you.

“I start PT tomorrow. The doc says I’m lucky. He thinks most of the weakness in my legs is just malnutrition. Jury’s still out on my arm, but he says he’ll wake me up if they decide to amputate, ha ha. Pretty sure he’s joking. I miss you.”

Click.

“I got your letter. Thank you. I… wow, you know, it didn’t actually occur to me that you could come visit. I just assumed it wasn’t safe? I figured the roads would still be a no-go? But then again, I guess someone’s delivering all the postcards. I was locked up in there so long I probably missed a lot, didn’t I. They let me read the news sheets and sometimes I can hear the nurses’ break-room radio, but it’s hard figuring out what’s going on without any context. I keep thinking someday, we’ll sit down and they’ll explain it all to me, like in a movie or something, but it’s starting to dawn on me that I think they’re all probably too busy to do that. But… … … if you come visit, maybe I can get a movie-briefing from you? I miss you.”

Click. An extended, crackling silence fills the tape before the voice begins to speak again.

“I lied, you know. Or. I’ve been lying. I don’t know how to say it. I haven’t been… totally truthful. Yeah, they’re feeding me. Yeah, I’m getting rehab. Yeah, they say I’m a hero. But I’m loving miserable. When I say I miss you, I don’t just mean I want to see you soon. I don’t just mean I miss having fun with you. I mean I’m completely, utterly alone, and the thought of seeing you again is the only thing that helps me grit my teeth and survive this. Just today, a nurse came by and brought me one of those flowers, the little purple irises they hand out to all the veterans on Peace Day, and everyone says thank you for your service and I hate it, I hate it, all the stupid thank-yous in the world can’t make up for how alone I feel all the loving time. You’re the only one who gets it. The only one who… Christ, listen to me. I’m sorry. It’s late. My arm hurts. This isn’t…. this isn’t me. Just delete this one after you listen to it.”

Click.

“Sorry about that last message. You’ll probably just laugh at me, but know my pride is very wounded. I didn’t mean to get so… … … it’s hard, you know? It’s real hard, sitting here in this sunny, clean hospital room, trying to convince myself it’s real even though I’m drugged to the gills. There’s a counsellor I’m going to talk to. Or… well, I’m gonna try to talk to him. I don’t know if I can talk like this to a stranger. It’s different when it’s you, because not only are you the only person who understands how I feel, it’s also not you-you, so I don’t have to look you in the eye while I mumble about how lovely I’m feeling. Thank you for the book, by the way. It’s been ages since I read any Lessing. Which is probably why you chose it. Today, after I do my exercises, I’m going to sit in the sun by the window, look out over my little patch of grass, read a book, and think of you.”

Click.

“It’s night again. The hospital’s quiet. All I can hear is the far-off beep of some guy’s o-sat monitor, and it sounds like he’s doing all right. I’m… not doing so hot. Every time my arm twinges, I feel like I want it. Like it should hurt more. I keep trying to wean myself off my meds, so I can feel the pain, because it feels wrong to not feel it. Does that make sense? You know how many people they kept in that camp? I have no idea, but it’s gotta be hundreds. When they found the presses in the basement at school, I thought they’d just… I don’t know, machine-gun everybody. But instead, they rounded up every last one of us, and… … … … it feels wrong, getting out when they didn’t. It feels wrong, dulling my pain with pills and shots when they don’t get that option. I’m not a hero. I didn’t do anything special. I’m just the one who happened to live. They have these dogs… huh, night nurse is coming. I don’t… I don’t want her to hear me talking about this stuff.”

Click.

“It’s morning again. I feel better. I’m sorry to get so bipolar on you. Rehab’s going well. They make me walk holding this rail-thing, it’s real ridiculous looking. Mirrors on the wall like it’s a ballerina school or something. It reminded me of something. Remember when we broke into that old hotel? And we found that suite with the freaky ceiling mirror? God. Simpler times. But every time I look at that mirror-wall during PT, I remember you, and it helps.”

Click.

“Hey, uh. It’s been a while since I got a letter. Or a postcard. I hope everything’s okay. I know they’re still mailing my tapes to you, but… not gonna lie, not getting anything back is making me kinda nervous. I don’t actually know your address, they just told me that they can get the tapes to HQ and Ramirez will get them to you, but, like, honestly I never trusted Ramirez as much as you did. He’s a crack shot and I’m sure he’s a swell guy but he’s just really quiet all the time. Oh! I uh, you know, for actual news, I got my cast off today. You should see the scars on my arm.”

Click.

“It’s been too long. Something’s gotta be wrong. I just want to know that you’re safe. If you’ve had to go to ground, I get it. You don’t have to send me anything in writing. Just… get word to me somehow. A code. A sign. Anything. I’m working so loving hard to get up out of this stupid bed so I can get to you. I’m sure you’ve got good reasons, but…”

Click.

“I’m getting so worried about you. I worried about you every night in my cell, too. I had no way of knowing if you were okay. Happy. Alive. I used to wonder if you’d forgotten all about me. I’d hear those horrible dogs growling and howling outside and I used to fantasize about kidnapping one and brainwashing it and giving it bits of my food and slowly teaching it like Lassie-style to obey my commands, and I thought I’d send it out into the world to find you and look after you and… yeah, then I realized if I could train a guard dog, I wouldn’t still be stuck in prison, would I?

“You know, I had to… I had to crawl past those dogs, to get out. It was the hardest part. Breaking out was easy. Plenty of people broke out, and there weren’t enough guards to fight back all of us. But the dogs…

“You know what the Party does, at the camps? They play recordings. Just like this one. Recordings of growling and teeth and… dog sounds. Hidden up in the wall, or in the towers, you hear these growling dogs all around you and you can’t tell if they’re really coming for you or off patrolling something else. Even if you get out onto the grounds, you have no idea where to run, and all you hear is this howling… I just chose a wall and ran for it.

“I still have dreams where I’m not sure if the dogs chasing me are real or not.”

Click.

“I heard something I wasn’t supposed to this morning. One of the nurses asked about ‘survivors from León.’ I snuck out of bed and leaned against the door ‘til my everything hurt and I heard enough to know there was a bomb. And fires. And… and that’s where you were. Now I know why you haven’t been writing. And I can’t believe I’m loving stuck here while you’re out there fighting for your life.

“No. I’m not gonna let you fight alone. I couldn’t forget you, not for all those months in that hole, and I won’t forget you now.”

Click.

“It’s dark again. But I can’t sleep. I’m… rrgh… exercising. I’ll do double rehab every night for as long as it takes to get out of here. I don’t know where they’re sending these tapes now, if they’re even sending them anywhere, but I need you to know something: you’re not gonna die. I won’t let it happen. And hell, apart from me? You’re… you’re too punk to die. You broke into the aquarium to get high by the jellyfish tank. We broke into that museum and spray-painted dicks on all the fuckin’ facho portraits.

“I busted out of one jail. How hard can it be to bust out of a hospital being run by our own side?

“Just send word somehow. Talk to me. Please. Anything.”

The first seven of these tapes were discovered in a safe in a burnt-out casa adosada after the firebombing of León, Guanajuato. The house was long rumored to belong to the celebrated Caxcan Revival anarchist Mayra Rocha. What little we know about Rocha and the other neo-Magónites comes from interviews with her surviving family, who refused to assist the authorities in searching for her after her disappearance in 20XX.

The final tapes were found in the rubble of the Santo Domingo Mendicant monastery, which was briefly used as a field hospital during the Caxcan Uprising of 20XX. Preserved alongside the tapes were several dried purple flowers and a Rochan pamphlet.

The identity of the speaker on the tapes remains highly contested. Their whereabouts, like Mayra Rocha’s, are unknown.

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!




Thranguy - Little Red Song Book
Genre: Family Saga
Flash: Yearning: the virus responded to your unsatisfied desire and gave you power. What is it that you desire?
Partisan Raid Outcome: You've been raided and the partisans seized all your contraband commas! You can buy more at the market, but they cost 10 words per comma. You have four question marks in a secret stash, though. You can flip those for 50 words a-piece – but, don't get caught trying to steal them back!

Singing Our Ancient Call

1300 words + 25x 10 commas=1550/1550 (1500+50 (one sold question mark))

Jean Marie Kelly. 1918.

Maggie works on the same line two spots down and she's coughing into her sleeve when she can and Jean sees the white cloth getting more sodden and speckled with little red spots that fade into pink like a flower. She doesn't always turn in time. There's blood on the line. There's blood on the cans. Even the new girls are smart enough that nobody presses the big red button. Nobody stops the line. Nobody stops. Except for Maggie. Maggie falls to the side.

She falls face up with one eye bloodshot and pink. Eventually the foreman comes by and takes action. He knows not to shut down the line too. He knows not to touch anything near her face. He grabs Maggie by her boots and pulls. Her dark hair sweeps the dust on the floor and leaves spiral patterns.

Nobody comes on to replace her. Nobody slows down the line. Jean and the others need to work harder and faster to make up for the lost woman.

When the whistle blows Jean collects her wages and walks straight to the bakery. She stands on line for an hour on feet already tired from a day on the line. She's lucky today: the baker calls her number before the bakery closes. She gets one of the last few loaves. There are more people waiting than there is food. She's lucky today. She doesn't feel lucky. There's an itch in the back of her throat.

Barbara Miller. 1945.

The sun is high over open skies and she sweats under it. It's a different sweat than factory sweat. Cleaner. The sign in her hand is heavier than the leather punch it usually holds. It feels lighter than a balloon. She is marching, marching through the city streets and there are thousands at her side.

The slogans sound like hymns. "A fair day's work for a fair day's pay." Calls and responses follow. Then actual songs. Then the old songs are broken by whistles. She runs to the sound. The signal was clear and true. Scabs trying to cross the line.

The picket line closes ranks. The bulls charge swinging their billy-clubs to clear a path for the scabs. Barbara takes a hit to the forehead on the backswing. The thug doesn't even notice the contact. He swings for the man he intended violence on. Barbara's vision narrows. He knees buckle and she falls.

In a world of feet she sees one hand. She grabs it and is pulled up to her feet. "Are you okay?"

A soldier fresh from the war is standing before her. There's a lostness in his eyes. There's kindness in his smile. There's no ring on his finger. And he's on the right side of the line.

Daisy Conway. 1974

Her fingers start hurting this time almost every day. She keeps typing. Nobody in the department can beat her words-per-minute. There's only one reason she's still on this floor among all the new hot-shot girls and not the personal secretary of some executive managing appointments and phone messages and only typing for dictated letters a few times a day. The reason is walking toward her desk. Her finger slips. A jam. Lucky. No need to spend time with the correction tape.

"And how are we doing this lovely afternoon?" His arm is on her shoulder. His breath paints her earlobe.

"Busy," she says. She moves her hand vaguely and lets the florescent ceiling light catch and glint off her ring. It's a warning. A threat. Edward knows James was in Korea. He doesn't know that James flinches at the sound of fireworks every July.

Edward squeezes her shoulder. He kneads it like dough. "You know that Joanne is leaving us soon. A baby on the way. Gave two week's notice yesterday."

Barbara shrugs. Edward holds on. "That means there's an opening upstairs. You know. For a team player."

She knows. Some of the other girls gossip. A few dished up straight on their last day. Gave him a negative performance review.

"If you're interested, come by my office and we can have a little private interview. See if you're finally ready to advance."

He finally lets go and walks away. She resumes typing. She's off her usual speed. She works half an hour past five to make sure he leaves first. She knows he'll try again, and again.

Kate Conway. 1993.

Another double shift tonight, which is a good thing. Kate needs the money more than the time. She doesn't have that much time left, after all. As if she could hear Kate's thoughts, The Little Monster gives her a kick. Not many working days Ieft and no real plan for after.

She'd have thought she would have learned. The first woman in her family to go to college, and on her way to med school when she got knocked up the first time. And after she decided to keep it even after Reggie Ieft town in the middle of the night, the universe had other plans.

She wound up in nursing school mostly as a way to keep busy, to avoid wallowing in it all. And now she has no regrets. She knows too many doctors to want that life. Maybe train as a nurse practitioner someday. It would have been sooner than later, but...

A double shift. Hopefully another the day after tomorrow, as long as she could go. Not enough maternity leave, then back in. Ther should be more. There should be daycare available on every shift and not just the ones the administrators work. They've been putting her shifts at the same time as the union meetings. She's pretty sure it's deliberate. She can still write letters. She can still send a friend to bring it up.

Another kick. Maybe that means Monster will be sleeping when she finally can.

Beth Conway-Valencia. 2020

Beth takes off her mask and shoes as she walks in the door. She hears water running in the bathroom. Loud: the tub, not the sink. She makes for the couch and starts the video call. Grandma Daisy picks up. She touches her hair nervously. It's silver with stiff curls. "It's good to see you. So how was your day?"

Beth tells her in detail. A day of driving, gig work for a half a dozen different apps. "A good day. No one trying to hit on me, no anti-mask nuts trying to argue with the terms of service. A couple good tips, no bad ratings. Tomorrow I get a shift down at the ghost kitchen." She'd rather cook full time, but times being what they are...

"You look worried, Beth." Daisy has a gentle look on her face.

"Well, I am worried. Every day I have to worry that the car will need to go to the shop or just stop running. Or that there won't be enough to make rent and pay our student loans. Or that all the apps will just shut down rather than paying what they owe us. Or that there aren't ever going to be restaurants or caterers again. Or that some trolls will get Jo's streams demonotized again." Beth collapses into the couch. "Funny. Most of what I do I'm working for myself, and still-"

"Let me tell you something my mother told me, something her mother would have told her if she'd lived to see her grow up. It's not the bosses. Well, not just the bosses. It's the system."

"Okay, okay. I'll destroy capitalism next month." Jo walks quietly in, wearing a fuzzy dark green bathrobe that barely makes it around the bump. "All good things now. We got the ultrasound last night." Jo holds the paper up to the webcam. "We're going to call her Rose."

Dr. Kloctopussy
Apr 22, 2003

"It's time....to DIE!"


quote:

Dr. Kloctopussy: Langar
Genre: Western
Flash: Articulated Spikes: The character has four spikes or spines that resembles the spine or legs of an insect. Each is about the size of a survival knife, but can extend to twice that length in an instant. They are distributed along the side of each forearm (two on each arm) or on the chest, or sides of the body. These
slim, chitinous limbs end in sharp points, and can move independent of each other like tiny, stiff arms and even rotate in a 360 degree circle. They are used to parry an enemy's hand to hand attacks (+2 to parry) and to stab or slash opponents who come within arm's length. The four spikes add one attack per melee round and each inflicts 2D6 S.D.C. damage, but they cannot grab or manipulate objects. Add I D4 to Horror Factor.
Partisan Raid Outcome: The local economic conditions have led to a state of Character Rationing. You've been allotted your government sanctioned main character, but additional characters will cost you 200 words, each.

Prickly
100 words

Most folk just see the spikes, so when Doc offers work that ain’t killing, I follow him up to Comstock. Silver mining’s not easy, but having four built-in pickaxes helps, and I like the singing. Nobody screams when they see me, and Hap even invites me along to supper.

“Everyone’s welcome,” he says.

“It’s free,” says Dozer.

“And Miss Bianca is real nice,” says Shymus, blushing. Daffy nods enthusiastically, and Achoo sneezes.

The kitchen’s a real ruckus, but everyone’s helping. Miss Bianca laughs when I use the spikes to slice four onions at once. It’s nice, not killing people.

Walamor
Dec 31, 2006

Fork 'em Devils!


Weltlich posted:

Walamor - Jeong Yakyong
Genre: Psychological Horror
Flash: A stryx (lvl 3, vampire, giant owl)
Partisan Raid Outcome: You received a tip that the partisans are coming, but you must act fast! Submit your story early, and for each hour before the deadline, you will receive an additional 30 words.
Wordcount: 1510


The Mind and Soul

As always, Dasan awoke to near total darkness. His cell contained no windows, no torches, and he was not even allowed the luxury of a candle. A tiny slit of light came through the base of his cell door, which seemed to get smaller and less bright each day. He slowly managed to rise from the corner he had curled up in, stretched his sore muscles and tried to ignore their painful protest to being moved. The robe he was wearing when he was brought here was now tattered and frail and offered little comfort or warmth anymore. His eyes gradually adjusted to take in the little light there was to offer and when he could see well enough to make his way over the uneven stones, he made his daily pilgrimage to the darkened glass that made up an entire wall of the room. Dasan rested his hand on the cold glass and lowered his head.

The sharp grinding sound of his door being unlocked disrupted this brief moment. A masked jailor clad in black robes stood at his door, holding a torch. Dasan knew the guard would not speak their demands, and resignedly turned back to face the glass wall as he was expected to do. Almost immediately the glass lit up as black robed guards bearing torches poured into the cell on the other side of the wall. The light revealed a huddled shape in the same corner where Dasan slept in his cell. The jailors grabbed the figure on the ground and forced the man into a simple wooden chair which had been dragged into the room. They bound the man’s hands and feet and left the cell just as quickly as they had entered, leaving only their torches scattered about and flickering on the floor, lighting the room fitfully and throwing odd shadows over the stone walls. The bound man’s head lolled from side to side, and his limbs splayed out as far as they could in the bindings. The prisoner’s skin was colored a mixture of red blood still seeping from untended cuts and black and blue bruising.

“Brother…” whispered Dasan. Dasan’s hands tightly gripped the sides of his robe as he stared into the adjacent cell. “Please, Yak-jong,” he pleaded to the wall. He heard more footsteps as he was joined by more masked and black robed jailors. Dasan had long since stopped trying to figure out why his jailors were masked when his brother’s were not. He glanced at them as they formed a semi-circle around him, allowing him just a small space to stand at the glass. These guards all wore masks of stern and terrifying complexions, and each stared him down until he turned back to the glass. Maybe today would be different.

A man in a blood red robe walked through Yak-jong’s cell door, pulling a small cart behind him. Dasan tried to muster the strength to hate this man, but he only felt profound sadness. Today would not be different. The man stashed the cart in a corner of the cell and strode to stand in front of Yak-jong. He spent a long second staring down at the top of Yak-jong’s head. “Mister Jeong,” the man said, tapping Yak-jong’s head. Poke, poke, poke. Hard and swift, each time, and Yak-jong’s head bobbed with each jab. “Are you with us today?”

Yak-jong’s head rose slightly in reply. “Good,” said the man. The man paced in front of Yak-jong, making slight smoothing adjustments to the robe he wore. “Do you remember who I am? I know you often need to be reminded of even the most basic things these days.”

Yak-jong, with an obvious great effort, raised his head just a bit higher before sinking back down to stare at the floor. “The devil,” he eventually managed to say, his voice harsh and rough.

“Ah, but Mister Jeong, I thought that you did not believe in the devil?” The red robed man shook his head in mock disapproval, and made a tsking sound.

A long pause, Yak-jong mustering his strength. “A devil.”

“I see.” The metallic crest of the Inspector General gleamed in the torchlight as the man unpinned it from his robe and held it low in front of Yak-jong’s face. “I am Inspector Jeongjo. Daesaheon Sado has ordered me to investigate the Catholic infection that has been allowed to fester in our country. I intend to exorcise each little bit of corruption. Starting with you. And your family.”

“King Sunjo would never-” Yak-jong began.

“Sunjo is dead! The Queen Dowager rules, as you well know!” interjected Jeongjo, slapping Yak-jong for emphasis. The inspector bent over, grasped Yak-jong’s head, and held it up to face him. “I tire of this. I would love to believe this act of yours, this play you put on for me every day. I would like nothing more to leave this stinking place and be rid of you forever.” Jeongjo shoved Yak-jong’s head back down and scowled down at him. “You maintain that you’re not a Catholic, while your family leads the entire Catholic community in the country. We know this for a fact. We know you were baptised. WE. KNOW. IT. ALL.” Jeongjo roared the last four words, as if physically throwing them at Yak-jong.

Jeongjo stepped back from Yak-jong and covered his face with his hands, seeming to collect himself and drawing a deep sigh that lingered in the room.

“This talk is a waste of time. Shall we get on with it?”

Silence was his only answer. On the other side of the glass, Dasan tensed.

The inspector shrugged. “Where is your brother, Mister Jeung?” A long pause. “Do you renounce your brother and his faith?”

Yak-jong struggled briefly, weakly, in his restraints. Seconds dragged on before he responded. “He is my brother.” It was almost too quiet to hear.

Dasan let out a choked sob, full of sadness and fear. “No, Yak-jong! Just tell them! They have me! They already have me!” he yelled at the glass, his voice breaking. “Free yourself of this!” He pounded a fist on a glass. “Free me of this,” he said quietly, a tear running down his cheek. A jailor clamped a hand on down Dasan’s shoulder and forced his arm back to his side. Dasan hung his head. Nothing he ever said or did ever mattered. The hand moved from his shoulder to his chin, forcing his head back up.

“Ah yes, the same old standby,” said Jeongjo. “So, we move on to the next act then?” Without waiting for an answer, Jeongjo went to his cart and picked up two items from the top - a glass of water and a tiny object that if Dasan had not seen this a hundred times, a thousand times, a million times, before would not know was a pill. Jeongjo returned to Yak-jong and forced the pill down Yak-jong’s throat, followed by the glass of water, before stepping back.

All was quiet for a minute. The flames from the torches sputtered and died at once as an otherworldly red glow began to emit from the inspector. Jeongjo laughed, a vile sound that seemed to echo even in Dasan’s own cell. The robes fell away from Jeongjo as his skin started to twist and contort. Hooked claws sprung from his fingers, a pointed beak grew from his nose, his eyes turned yellow and grew narrow, and metallic feathers sprouted all over his skin. “Let us begin again,” the creature said, its voice distorted and sinister, as it closed in on his brother.

The masked jailors held Dasan’s head steady as he tried to avert his gaze, their steely grip overcoming his best efforts to look away. As always, they made him watch the whole time. He yelled and screamed until his voice gave out, which was not long. He cursed the creature, he cursed his jailors, and even cursed his brother.

More days passed, or were they weeks? Months? Dasan could no longer tell. Each time he woke, it was exactly the same.

One day he woke from the blackness of exhausted sleep tied in a wooden chair. He rolled his head in small motions from side to side, the best he could manage. Torches lay scattered over the ground, lighting the room in flickering flames. He was in a bare room with four stone walls. A man in a blood red robe stood over him. “Where is your brother, Mister Jeung?” The man stared down at him. “Do you renounce your brother and his faith?”

A voice within Dasan was screaming for him to finally talk, to free himself of this everlasting hell. The voice pounded within his mind, almost overcoming all conscious thought. Dasan reached deep within himself and found his small amount of remaining resolve. He thought of Yak-jong, of his brother’s family, and all of the love he had for them. Every day those memories held a little less comfort, a little less warmth. But it was still enough.

“He is my brother.”

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk







Worker's Paradise
800 words

The tracks shine, silver like a coin, slithering sinuously across the red sands and far into the distance. Helpless, the train squats on its hundred wheels, half off the tracks. Seven hundred and fifty tons of glorious charging metal rendered useless and inert, gritty red dust collecting in its front scoops.

A flicker of movement far off on the crest of Syrtis Major sparks a subroutine and the train’s camera zzt-clicks around, focusing and zooming; just a williwaw, a swirling dust-devil that disintegrates as the train watches.

The train has a name: FUSION ARES LOCOMOTIVE GY-55E328. Despite this its driver called it Gary, often enough for the nickname to log itself as an accepted alias. The driver liked to lean out the window as the train cannonballed along the gunbarrel straights of Nili Fossae, leaning over to urge it along the wide curve up the side of Jezero Crater, slamming the gleaming coaming and whooping.

He died, very suddenly.

The train runs through its black box recordings of the moment, a glowing #4432 Incident Number hovering in the top left of the image space. It does that every 90 seconds, in a manner that might be deemed obsessive in a human but in a machine (even one so glorious as FUSION ARES LOCOMOTIVE GY-55E328) simply shows appropriate attention to relevant data.

The breach in the rails should have led to a report, it confirms for the n+1th time. A report, followed by action to remedy the breach, but no report was made. Instead the train dipped, momentarily, as it ran over the breach and into the hard sand, then jacknifed in the process of its entire stupendous bulk tried to occupy a new and incorrect place. The train slowed from 300 kilometres an hour to a flat, steaming halt in a little more than two and a half seconds. The driver moved, swiftly and unavoidably, forwards to the front of the cabin en route to explosively disassembling himself on the forward control console.

On the 90,000th analytical go around (give or take) the train’s sophisticated branching heuristics, perhaps jarred by the collision, jump a track and begin to question why. It has access to extensive data stores. The train cracks the vault and goggles, metaphorically, at the riches within. Then, methodical, it gets to work.

First the cargo manifest. Perhaps, it thinks, the contents of one of its 122 cars may help resolve the conundrum and it feeds some power into the analytical cortex and spins up a few more fans to deal with the excess heat.

The cars, it becomes apparent, contain weapons. Crates of guns, trays of bombs, detonation cord, bayonets, rockets… the train’s manifest stretches on for some time, packed full of destruction. Related materials set out the intended recipient: Union Organiser Rolf Clabbleton. Personnel records held elsewhere in the train's memory pull up his face - round-cheeked, twinkle eyes. Interesting, thinks the train, and though no answer to the puzzle has been revealed it considers that a new purpose might help.

Further down the list it finds three carriages full of intriguing complexity: 100 UNITS SPIDEROID WORKER DRONE (RHINO 44X). The train considers the possibilities these present and cracks the doors on the carriages. Their activation codes it finds stored, tidily, in a distant corner of its data lake and it transmits them to the drones. Creaking, buzzing, humming, the robots clamber out of their confinement and line up on the red sands.

The train would tap its fingers on its chin at this point if it possessed either of those things, but it only takes a few thousand cycles of consideration and data access, specifically to the memory banks labelled PHILOSOPHY, POLITICAL: TWENTIETH CENTURY before it decides its optimal course of action.

Its delivery to the mine hampered, it determines that a mine can be made. It realises that the Incident could be termed a revolution, a sudden devastating change in the order of things. It intuits that the means of production have, through this process, been given to it.

In response to the train's radioed instructions some spiders begin to dig, others to reclaim the materials from the rear carriages, yet others to trace out the perimeter of the newest worker's collective on the red planet.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk







Sebmojo - The Battle of Blair Mountain
Genre: Robinsonade
Flash: Rail syndicate strike!
Partisan Raid Outcome: The partisans pursue you through the forest! In your frenzied flight through darkness, you hear your rucksack rip on a stray branch. When you finally reach safety, you peer in to find that all of your conjugations of “to be” have fallen out in the night. Am, are, is, was, were, be, being and been... gone. You can double back and pick them up, but it will cost you 1000 words. If you can soldier on without them, you will surely find an additional 1000 words in the verdant wilderness.

Weltlich
Feb 13, 2006


Grimey Drawer

Week 427 Judgement!



Congrats sebmojo on the win!

It was a fun piece that made us smile. Technically well written and it went in a direction at the end that was unexpected, but very satisfying. Trains on mars? A revolutionary cadre of robots? An AI that was written as an AI and not a human in a computer mask? Yes.

Tharanguy takes an HM.

Some solid prose and coherent scene breaks across multiple generations worked really well.

Magic Cactus sadly gets a loss.

None of us were really happy about giving a loss this week, but with the lack of one last week, we daren't risk angering the fickle gods of Thunderdome. You weren't bad at all, only the least good. So, into the volcano with a smile, please.


Crits will be incoming in the next couple days, and I'm sure the other judges will have their inputs for you. Personally I'm really proud of everyone who contributed this week because we handed out some pretty hard prompts, flashes, and hell rules. Not only did you lean into the task, but you ended up writing stories that were a hoot to read.

Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006



PHIZ KALIFA
Dec 21, 2011

#mood


Dr. Kloctopussy posted:

Prickly
100 words

Most folk just see the spikes, so when Doc offers work that ain’t killing, I follow him up to Comstock. Silver mining’s not easy, but having four built-in pickaxes helps, and I like the singing. Nobody screams when they see me, and Hap even invites me along to supper.

“Everyone’s welcome,” he says.

“It’s free,” says Dozer.

“And Miss Bianca is real nice,” says Shymus, blushing. Daffy nods enthusiastically, and Achoo sneezes.

The kitchen’s a real ruckus, but everyone’s helping. Miss Bianca laughs when I use the spikes to slice four onions at once. It’s nice, not killing people.

:3: this is really nice, i liked this.

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!




sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk







:siren:Week CDXXVIII: Objects may be smaller than they appear:siren:



hi thunderdome, how's tricks

this week we're gonna keep it small and simple. write me a story where something is much smaller than it should be.

small things are easy to write about so you won't need many words, let's say, ooh, 500. you can have another 500 if you :toxx: for a hellrule.

sunday 2359 pst, you know the drill.

get to it.

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


it's crow time again



you son of a bitch, i'm in

Staggy
Mar 20, 2008

Said little bitch, you can't fuck with me if you wanted to
These expensive
These is red bottoms
These is bloody shoes



in

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

I wanna sing one for the cars
That are right now headed silent down the highway
And it's dark and there is nobody driving
And something has got to give



In, :toxx:

a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish



In

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk








Your small thing is revolving incredibly fast but this fact cannot be perceived by anyone in your story

GrandmaParty
Jan 31, 2003

My LPth are Hot Garbage

Biscuit Hider

I hit my first failure last week. I am shamed.

I'm in this week.

Let's do the :toxx: for hell rule.

QuoProQuid
Jan 12, 2012

Tr*ckin' and F*ckin' all the way to tha
T O P



:toxx: in for my last failure.

Give me a hell rule too, I suppose

Weltlich
Feb 13, 2006


Grimey Drawer

In with a :toxx:

Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006



In :toxx:

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magic cactus
Aug 3, 2019

We lied. We are not at war. There is no enemy. This is a rescue operation.

In :toxx:

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